Facebook will help people find food and shelter during disasters

Facebook’s new Community Hub feature will be made available during disasters starting next year. Facebook

NEW YORK — Facebook is ramping up its efforts to become a disaster and crisis response tool.

The company revealed a new “Community Hub” feature at a press event on Thursday, which will allow Facebook users to connect with those seeking shelter, food, and supplies in the wake of a natural disaster.

Facebook also announced that its Safety Check feature, which lets people quickly tell their friends that they’re safe during a natural disaster or crisis, will only be activated by people already posting about their concerns and not by Facebook employees.

The company has previously been met with backlash for activating Safety Check for certain disasters, like the shooting at a Paris nightclub last year, and not others, like the 2015 bombings in Beirut and Lebanon. Now Safety Check will only be enabled when enough people are posting about a crisis like an earthquake or shooting.

Safety Check was first enabled in 2014 for Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines, and Facebook turned the feature on for the first time in the U.S. in early 2016 after a gunman massacred 50 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

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